As we suggested in our first article, an analysis of your current business situation must consider your internal and external environment. A business will grow when, on the one hand, it has efficient and cost-effective internal processes, and on the other, great new offerings that clients want to buy and are happy to recommend to others. Businesses often focus on the latter and forget that in delivering great products and services you need a well-oiled machine to get the work done. Sometimes your internal processes can be your competitive advantage. Think of McDonald’s — they just sell burgers but their slick process model enables them to deliver a standardised product on time, every time
Therefore, reducing costs and creating internal efficiencies is key for all businesses, regardless of the level of disruption caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. If you’ve been able to sustain your business and re-open, new processes could set you apart from your competitors.
For example, with the inevitable social distancing and health and safety requirements becoming a new norm, a café might develop so customers can order coffee and food in advance and pick it up when it suits them. The app may also be great for managing workflows as it will enable you to identify your busiest times of the day and adjust your staffing levels accordingly.
Process mapping is a great tool to work through your internal processes to assist in identifying bottlenecks, where improvements can be made, and how technology can be implemented to make those improvements. There are a lot of resources available on how to undertake process mapping. We highly recommend the use of a cross functional process called `swimlane’*. A picture paints a thousand words and this diagram outlines the process.
*The Basics of Process Mapping, 2nd Edition, Robert Damelio
Start with a trigger point. In the diagram above, it is the customer coming into Quick Lube. By identifying each step, and the customer touch points and outputs, you can quickly see how your systems work. It is such a transparent way of articulating how you do business.
You can use this process for all your internal activities, such as customer engagement or HR. How do you on-board your staff — is it haphazard and then you get frustrated that a staff member doesn’t do the basics well? Does this sound familiar? Or is a customer grumpy at the end of a job because they were not expecting the invoice to be as much? How can you improve your customer engagement process so you are managing expectations?
Remember, in our first article we suggested that you rearticulate your purpose around how you do business. Does the way you work align with your purpose? Your values? Engagement with staff and other stakeholders will be invaluable as their feedback on issues that affect them day-to-day will help identify where improvements can be made. Complaints, although uncomfortable, are gold, particularly when you need to adapt.
This is also a valuable exercise to consider the partners you work with and the resources you use in your business. Do they add value? Do they make your job easier, consume too much time, or cost too much? Improving internal efficiencies will be crucial in the new reality we are all facing.
Process mapping can help you redesign your organisation so it works the way you always envisaged. However, a note of caution, if redesigning your processes impacts on the roles of your team, you need to follow strict workplace change processes or a restructure that complies with Employment Relations legislation. We will talk further about how you manage a workplace change in our next article.